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(VALUE OF STRENGTH + REFUSE ) Straight edge is a powerful subculture of a subculture. Punk rockers that don’t smoke, don’t drink, and don’t do drugs are the outcasts of the outcasts. Following the timeline from 1982 towards 2024 the two straight edge authors Marc Hanou and Jean-Paul Frijns tell and show the narrative of the European straight edge through the oral history of the people that made it happen. 

The development of the European straight edge is described by Dutch bands.
The straight edge scene in Europe developed from Lärm’s
 Do-It-Yourself punk ethics towards the socialist activism of ManLiftingBanner. Mainstrike and Reaching Forward put the emphasis on straight edge and ‘clean living’, followed by a strong emphasis on veganism as Eye of Judgement shows. 

Capturing the immense energy of a vibrant and vivid scene, “We Could Not Do Any Better” contains not just Dutch stories but tales from all over Europe. From Sweden to Spain, from Portugal to Poland. With the straight edge capitols from Europe: Amersfoort and the Geleen-fests in the Netherlands, Kortrijk and the Ieper-fests in Belgium, Warsaw in Poland, the Ruhrpott and Schleiz in Germany, and last but certainly not least Umeå in Sweden. Also Spain with Barcelona, Portugal with Lisboa and both Durham and Leeds from the UK are covered.

Almost 100 people that played in more than 50 bands, operated labels, wrote fanzines or booked shows, are interviewed. From the individual strands of their stories a history of European Straight Edge is weaved. A document for anyone interested in underground music, punk, hardcore or straight edge. But most of all for everyone that went to see a straight edge band at a show, that bought a t-shirt, a demo tape, a record or a fanzine, that fed a band or gave them a place to sleep. You are our scene. We could not do any better.

Covering bands from all over Europe such as Lärm, Profound, Colt Turkey, ManLiftingBanner, Mainstrike, Crivits, Betray, A Step Apart, Eye Of Judgement, Birds Of A Feather, Vitamin X, Refused, Rise Above, Nations On Fire, Congress, Spirit of Youth, Solid, Wheel of Progress, Blindfold, Shortsight, Feeding The Fire, Point Of No Return, Healing, Sunrise, Ironside, Eyeball, Spawn, Common Cause, Damage Control, Onward, For Pete’s Sake, Contention, Sportswear, Reaching Forward, Echoes, Steadfast, Gnezl Drei, Mine, Ferguson, Know Your Enemy and Liar.

Chapter one deals with the reaction of left wing punks on the party behavior and self-destruction of the early punk in 1977-1981. Dutch punk band De Rondo’s illustrates the downfall of the punk scene.

The second chapter evolves heavily around the groundbreaking work of Lärm; how they introduced straight edge in Europe. And how seeds of straight edge were planted in the UK, Germany and Belgium, all through Lärm. Someone called this chapter ‘a book within the book’. 

In the third chapter the start of Profound directly from the break-up of Lärm and the emerging scene around that with bands like Rise Above, Betray, Point Of No Return gets discussed. Also the development from Profound into ManLiftingBanner is described. The start of Crucial Response Records and how the combination of that label and the latter band influenced a new breed of straight edge in Europe.

Emerging bands like Mainstrike, Onward and Spawn, the scenes in Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden are covered in the fourth chapter. The development into Sportswear and Eyeball, the early days of Refused and Reaching Forward, and important festivals like Ieper and Geleen is described. Also the rise of straight edge in Poland with bands like Cymeon X and Sunrise as well as the start of Refuse Records. Labels like Marching Through Records and Commitment records get mentioned. Attention is paid to important fanzines like Value Of Strength and Simba.

The fifth chapter deals with the period in the early 21st century after Mainstrike, Sportswear and Eyeball had split up. When after A Step Apart stopped and new band Eye of Judgement carried forward the torch of inspiration. 

In the final chapter the two authors reflect on their time in Birds Of A Feather, and what happened in Europe after that band. 

Of course, the book is 700 pages long. This super short overview is way toooooo short. It does not even scratch the surface. Get the book and read the elaborate story of the European straight edge.

Marc Hanou (1967) discovered punk in 1981 at age 13 and saw Lärm play at age 15. He became straight edge in 1985, vegetarian in 1986 and on and off vegan since 1991 (“on” since 2015). He played in BTD, Betray, Dance Cleopatra, Longshot, Blackheads and in Twin Cities outfit In Defence. Later bands were Nixnieuwz, Birds Of A Feather, Echoes and Oprecht. He had a straight edge radio show between 1988 and 1994 on radio Patapoe, Amsterdam, did Revelation Records Europe from 1990 to 1995, booked dozens of shows at the Dirk, the Maloe Melo and the OCCII, all in Amsterdam, and booked shows in Europe for dozens of bands as well, from Green Day to Born Against. 

Jean-Paul Frijns (1973) heard punk for the first time on the b-sideof a new-wave compilation tape that a friend gave him during the mid ‘80s. Skateboarding and magazines like Thrasher and Maximum RocknRoll got him more involved in punk and hardcore. It introduced him to straight edge and inspired him to start his own zine Value Of Strength. He organized the
Geleen Festival’ during the 90’s and booked shows in the southern part of the Netherlands. Worked as a graphic designer for Victory records and lived in Chicago where he picked up the bass guitar. He played bass for Birds Of A Feather and Echoes and booked the occasional show at the Maloe Melo or the OCCII in Amsterdam.



If you’re ordering single copies from other places than Germany, Poland and North America you can also get it directly from the authors:




If you distribution or store is interested in distributing books please get in touch with Refuse Records for wholesale rates:

North America wholesale going through Rev Distribution

Shipping: from 10.04.2024